Queen Elizabeth II was praised yesterday for speaking out on behalf of the world's poor.

Royal experts said she was well within her rights to champion the underprivileged and insisted she had not breached any constitutional protocol.

The Queen made her remarks to Professor David Simon on a visit to Royal Holloway, University of London, with the Duke of Edinburgh on Friday.

She told Prof Simon: "Poor people and their problems don't get reported often, and they need all the assistance they can be given."


Anti-monarchists have accused the Queen of breaching her political neutrality by making comments that are critical of Government policy.

But Royal commentators insist the Queen had a duty to speak out on behalf of those in need.

Penny Junor, who has written biographies of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, said: "The Queen is not stupid and would never stray into the world of party politics. I think most people will agree with what she said."

Hugo Vickers, the historian and royal biographer, described the Queen's comments as "sensitive and sensible". He said: "The Queen is allowed to speak, and if people want to pretend she said something political that is what they will do."

Prof Simon last night said he told the Queen about his field of expertise, which involves working with poor people, particularly in Africa.

He said they also discussed the recent flooding in England, how it affected those caught up in it, and how people here are much more able to recover from challenges, due to help such as insurance.

He said: "I don't think she was trying to be overtly political - it was just a sign of her compassion as far as I was concerned."

Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, supported the Queen's comments, saying: "I think it's simply an accurate observation, something that we're certainly seeing in our work and which people see increasingly in their communities, such as more families receiving emergency food aid."

But Graham Smith of anti-Monarchy group Republic called her comments 'crass'.

"It's a criticism of Government policy, and the rights and wrongs of Government policy aren't what she's supposed to speak on," he said.

- Mail On Sunday